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We cats have a tendency to hold on to our past experiences and believe that if we’re ever put in that situation again, the same thing is going to happen. By avoiding everything we’ve had a bad experience with in the past, we’re keeping ourselves safe. So, since most cats have probably associated car rides with something dreadful, like trips to the vet, they may not be all that happy to go inside a car.
If you’re planning to take your Bengal cat with you on a long car ride, it’s very important to desensitize them first by mentally conditioning them to associate car rides with pleasant things. It’ll take time and patience, but once your Bengal realizes that going on a car ride means good things will happen to them, they’ll look forward to every trip.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE CAR RIDE
- A couple weeks before your trip, start bringing your Bengal with you inside your car and allow them to explore and sniff around. Do this a few times a day so they become familiar with the inside of the car. Make sure to give them a treat afterwards.
- Once they’re comfortable inside the car, start feeding them all their meals inside the car. You can also give them delicious cat treats when they’re inside, and only then. Do this for about a week.
- Crate train them. Make sure they’re comfortable being inside their crate. You can put their cat bed or anything that has their scent on it inside to make them feel more at ease.
- Once they’re crate trained, you can now try placing the crate (with your Bengal in it) inside your car. If they panic, let them out immediately.
- Continue training them to become more comfortable inside your car while also being in their crate. Make sure to reward them after every session.
- Take them on short car rides around the neighborhood and see how they react. If they stay relaxed, you can try driving around for a while longer before letting them out and giving them treats.
- Make every car ride session positive and enjoyable for them so they keep looking forward to the next one.
WHAT TO DO DURING THE CAR RIDE
- Only let your Bengal out of their crate when you’re on park. Letting them out while you’re driving can be very dangerous and may get them injured or cause you to get into an accident.
- Never put their crate on the front seat because an airbag can crush both the crate and your Bengal during an accident.
- Make sure to put their crate on the back seat and place a seatbelt around it to prevent their crate from moving around or propelling forward if you ever step on the brakes too hard.
- You can sprinkle some catnip inside your cat’s crate to make them more relaxed during the car ride.
- Another way to relax them is to have someone sit in the backseat with them.
- Make sure to let them out for bathroom breaks or to just stretch out every few hours. You can give them treats when you do.
For information about which cat carrier you should use, check out this article!